Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Carrie Lam, the presumed next leader of Hong Kong, is no clone of divisive Leung Chun-ying

CommentInsight & Opinion
2017-03-21
Gary Cheung says the former chief secretary just needs to bring back her inclusive leadership style that in the past has helped to defuse, or at least set out to defuse, tension in society

 

The support of Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, and his sons for Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor could be the last nail in the coffin for her rival John Tsang Chun-wah’s campaign to be chief executive.

For weeks, there had been speculation that Li is a supporter of Tsang’s and that he and his sons may cast their vote for him in the secret ballot on Sunday to select Hong Kong’s next leader. People in favour of the former financial secretary had hoped that support from the Li family could encourage more pro-establishment electors to vote for the popular underdog as well.

That hope has now been dashed.

The Post has learned that National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang ( 張德江 ) last month successfully persuaded the Li family to vote for Lam, who is seen as Beijing’s preferred candidate.

This is a timely reminder that realpolitik reigns in the chief executive poll.

Some Tsang supporters believe President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) reticence on the matter so far may indicate Lam is just Zhang’s choice. But an understanding of Chinese politics suggests that no major decision like choosing Hong Kong’s leader could be made by anybody except Xi, who is now the most powerful Communist Party leader since Mao Zedong (毛澤東).

Nevertheless, while Beijing’s all-out effort to support Lam makes clear that she is the “anointed” candidate, Hongkongers should not suppose that their views carry no weight in the eyes of Beijing. Since the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress in March last year, Beijing has been monitoring public opinion in Hong Kong on likely candidates to be the next chief executive. Noting the opposition to Leung Chun-ying, mainland officials tasked with gathering intelligence were particularly interested in how Hongkongers viewed Tsang and Lam.

Leung’s announcement that he would not seek re-election is a testament to Beijing’s conciliatory approach towards Hong Kong. Hongkongers’ overwhelming opposition to Leung and the reluctance of a substantial number of pro-establishment figures to back him for a second term were factors that contributed to Beijing’s decision to look for an alternative.

The central government’s preference for Lam stems from its desire for a chief executive who has the capability and commitment to tackle thorny issues and, to a lesser extent, someone relatively acceptable to Hongkongers. As Beijing expects the next chief executive to have the ability to handle the complicated situation in Hong Kong in the next few years, it has reservations about Tsang’s laid-back leadership style and his tendency to avoid controversial issues.

Despite Lam’s nickname “CY 2.0”, I am reasonably optimistic that she would make a better chief executive than Leung in terms of bridging social divides – if she could restore her inclusive leadership style and problem-solving skills evident before the failed electoral reform in 2015.

In July 2007, Lam, then the secretary for development, took the bold move to join a debate with activists at a public forum at Queen’s Pier to persuade the angry crowd to disperse and allow the work to demolish the pier to start. Her presence at that critical moment helped calm the crowds and defuse the tension.

Further to her credit, Lam liaised with middlemen, like University of Hong Kong academic Joseph Chan Cho-wai and former president of the University of Hong Kong students’ union Gloria Chang Wan-ki, to set up dialogue with student leaders at the forefront of the Occupy Central protests in 2014.

At the televised dialogue with student leaders on October 21, Lam told them the government would submit a report to the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office to reflect public sentiment since the protests began on September 28. The government would also consider setting up a multi-party platform for talks on constitutional development beyond 2017, she said. But the talks eventually failed to reap rewards because the gap between the two sides was just too wide to be bridged.

One of Lam’s urgent tasks after landing the top job – if she is selected, as expected – will be to set herself apart from Leung by demonstrating a more inclusive governing style.

In an interview with online media ourTV.hk last Thursday, Lam told the programme host and former legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing that she was interested in the model of the eight-party coalition that Lau spearheaded in 2001 to push for policies that enjoy support from across the political aisle. The coalition successfully forced the government of the day to agree to measures such as a waiver of property rates and quarantine of residents in a block in Amoy Gardens in Kowloon Bay, at the height of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003.

I hope Lam means what she says and shows more flexibility in dealing with the pan-democrats after she becomes chief executive.

This is my last column for the Post, where I have worked for nearly 17 years. As someone who has been observing Hong Kong politics for more than two decades, it pains me to witness the vicious cycle precipitated by Beijing’s growing assertiveness on Hong Kong affairs and the resultant backlashes by Hongkongers in recent years.

I believe the persistent expression of views through peaceful means is more forceful and effective in pushing change than hurling bricks in the streets. Deliberate challenges to Beijing’s bottom line, like advocating Hong Kong independence and using abusive language during any oath-taking ceremony, only do a disservice to the fight for democracy.

Yet, as I told some Beijing officials and mainland experts on Hong Kong, Beijing badly needs to create room for moderates in Hong Kong to ensure the sustainability of the “one country, two systems” framework and break the vicious cycle.

Gary Cheung is the Post’s political editor


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Six ways a coalition would be a winning combination for Hong Kong

CommentInsight & Opinion
2016-12-05
Keith Hui explains how an inclusive administration would give both opposition parties and voters a real voice and stake in making the government work

 

A coalition government would increase the space for political compromise, in the sense that the chief executive would have plenty of bargaining chips (policy bureau posts) to negotiate with sensible political parties to engage in policymaking for long-term stability and prosperity. Illustration: Craig StephensHong Kong’s chief executive should consider upgrading the “principal officials accountability system” – introduced by Tung Chee-hwa in 2002 to appoint illustrious worthies alongside administrative officers to take up policy secretary posts – to an inclusive “coalition government”.

Recruiting more lawmakers ­affiliated with the major political parties, including the Democratic Party, to join such a coalition cabinet would offer a chance to solve the present political conundrum.

Coalition governments are common in Europe; many countries there have had a proportional representation mechanism for decades. For example, the current German government, named as the third “grand coalition” since the second world war, is composed of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the Social Democrat SPD, thus securing a dominating majority (504 of 598 seats) in the 18th Bundestag.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a regional conference of her Christian Democratic Union party in Heidelberg on November 28. She leads the third “grand coalition” government in Germany since the second world war. Photo: EPA

There would be at least six advantages from having Hong Kong lawmakers, from both functional and geographical constituencies, and district councillors appointed to the position of chief secretary and more than half the ministerial posts (including deputy and assistant ranks) inside the 13 policy bureaus.

It would mean more politicians like Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh Kung-wai, Transport and Housing Secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung; and Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Undersecretary Ronald Chan Ngok-pang inside the government.

The first advantage is that the chief executive would have more flexibility to negotiate with all those who faithfully support the “one country two systems” principle and recognise China’s unquestionable sovereignty over Hong Kong, so as to command a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council.

The recent oath-taking saga has revealed the Democratic Party’s consistent position in staying firmly away from the independence movement advocated by localists. The Democrats, in fact, had an excellent track record under the leadership of the late Szeto Wah for their patriotism as well as willingness to compromise with the government on many fronts. Moderates such as Fred Li Wah-ming and Sin Chung-kai would be ideal candidates to join a coalition government (after nominally resigning from the party) to represent the Democrats.

Fred Li would be ideal for a coalition government. Photo: Edmund SoThe more radical section of the party may disagree with such a move. However, unless they want to remain an opposition party forever, being assimilated into the coalition government is the only way to realise their goals regarding, say, social welfare and labour protection. In other words, only if the Democratic Party is willing to join a coalition government can it turn itself into a genuine political party.

This also applies to parties such as Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee’s New People’s Party, the Liberal Party and the various groups within the functional constituencies. This is actually the second advantage of a coalition government, in that it provides a formal channel for parties to attain governing power under certain conditions, thus fulfilling their ambition to become policymakers.

Also, as these politicians have the chance to analyse issues from both sides, they would tend to be practical rather than radical, realistic rather than idealistic and pragmatic rather than hypocritical.

The third advantage would be evoking the general public’s sense of belonging, security, achievement and closeness to the government, given that a certain number of politicians elected by the public would now be working as policymakers to initiate concrete action to improve their livelihoods.

Furthermore, if this happened generation after generation, voters would tend to distance themselves from radicals who could paralyse the legislature. Any sensible voter would always prefer those who can actually take care of their interests over those who merely provide lip service.

The fourth merit is that there would be no need to amend the Basic Law. The chief executive would continue to have all the necessary discretion, subject to Beijing’s approval, to appoint people to fill various posts, at certain ranks, while deciding how long they should serve. Professionals and civil servants could still be appointed to take up posts as, say, secretary for justice, security, financial services and the civil service. These non-politicians would counterbalance the influence of their political peers, when necessary, through budgeting or voicing realistic concerns.

Moreover, in a case where a secretary committed a serious mistake, immediate resignation would still be an option to help relieve pressure on the government.

The fifth advantage, and the most important one, will be increasing the space for political compromise, in the sense that the chief executive would have plenty of bargaining chips (policy bureau posts) to negotiate with sensible political parties to engage in policy implementation for long-term stability and prosperity. This could alleviate confrontations between the establishment and opposition parties. This is also how coalition governments work in many countries.

In the wake of the independence movement, the chief executive needs to spend more time improving mainland-Hong Kong relations. The chief secretary should therefore shoulder more responsibility to oversee internal affairs, from housing policy to legislation on Article 23. Appointing a popularly elected person to take up this position and lead the coalition government could open more gateways for cooperation among reasonable political groups for a consensus. This is the sixth advantage, so that political pressure is not overly concentrated on the chief executive.

Without a breakthrough, Hong Kong might have to rely on selling souvenirs to make a living soon.

Keith K C Hui is a Hong Kong-based commentator


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Arrow’s theorem and the Pan-Democratic vote for establishment candidates

Business
2017-03-08
Populist political sentiment pitches principles against strategy – but it is a false and contrived dichotomy because the ‘principles’ are in fact merely a strategy adopted in previous Chief Executive elections

Discussions over whether the pan-democrats should nominate and vote for establishment candidates in the Chief Executive elections have been intense.

Last week an overwhelming number of them nominated John Tsang and Woo Kwok-Hing. Subsequently the pan-democrats decided to cast all their votes in favour of the candidate with the highest public poll standing. This is a major break with their past as it backs away from populist democracy and represents a significant step towards liberal democracy.

Ever since the Enlightenment embraced the idea that all men are politically equal as the foundation of political life, there have been these two views of democracy centred on ideas about liberty.

Liberal democracy is a political arrangement designed to protect individual liberties. It sees government as the primary threat to individual liberties because of its monopoly over the use of coercive power, and politics as a matter of conflict and resolution.

Liberal democrats are very concerned about the oppression of minority interests by an elected majority. They want the power of government limited through constitutional constraints, a free press, and the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers.

Importantly, they also want to limit the powers of government through free, open and competitive elections with independent political parties – the purpose of which is to preserve the vitality of individual liberties and pluralistic diversity in society, rather than with electing a ‘good’ official that embodies the ‘general will’. For the liberal democrat, if the electorate elects a ‘bad’ one there is always the next election.

Populist democracy, on the other hand, is a political arrangement for realising what the ‘people’ want. The fundamental notion goes back to the French philosopher Rousseau’s famous ‘general will’ as a social contract of the incorporated people.

Unlike other philosophers of his era, Rousseau felt the advance of civilization and the formation of property rights had corrupted people and destroyed the equality that existed among men when they lived as ‘noble savages’.

He sought a radical reconstitution of society through mass political participation to restore this equality.

Rousseau believed a government elected by universal suffrage embodies the ‘general will’ and has a mandate to rule that has moral standing and is precious because it is the expression of the collective will of the incorporated people. Its decisions must be implemented, and citizens must all obey its laws.

Populist democratic politics is obsessed with implementing the ‘general will’ of the people to end injustice, but is almost silent on how to prevent power from corrupting once it has been captured. The corruption of power is the primary concern of liberal democratic politics, hence, Lord Acton’s famous dictum, ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

Minority interests are not a concern either of the popular democrat because if each citizen votes only in the common interest, and not for diverse personal and private interest, then by implication genuine minority interests are incorporated within the ‘general will’.

Put this way, it is possible to see how populist democracies can turn into tyrannies.

The late Professor Kenneth Arrow of Stanford University, Nobel laureate in economic sciences, dealt a devastating blow to the ‘general will’ concept through his research into social choice theory. Arrow proved it is impossible to get a community-wide consistent ranking of alternative choices even when every individual makes consistent choices.

The implication of Arrow’s result is that the concept of the ‘general will’ is an empty one. If the ‘general will’ cannot be made coherent, then what is left of Rousseau’s idea is merely a work of consummate rhetorical skill, a prolonged sleight of hand in which the most questionable concept is carefully hidden behind magnificent flourishes of prose.

Only liberal democracy survives the Arrow test as a coherent theory of democracy because it does not require election outcomes to embody the ‘general will’ with moral standing, it only needs elections to be genuinely competitive.

Politics in a liberal democracy does not rule out forming coalitions with strange bedfellows. Indeed, if it advances the cause of preserving liberty and protecting pluralistic diversity, it is both necessary and desirable. And if such coalitions of convenience turn out to be misguided, it is poor strategy not moral ineptitude.

The decision of the pan-democratic coalition to nominate and vote for establishment candidates to enhance competition in the Chief Executive elections has been criticised by radical populist legislators as strategising and betrays the principles pan-democrats has always stood for.

This populist political sentiment pitches principles against strategy, but it is a false and contrived dichotomy because the ‘principles’ are in fact merely a strategy adopted in previous Chief Executive elections when the pan-democrats had much fewer votes in the Election Committee. As the situation changes, so must the strategy. And if the new strategy fails to achieve its goal then there is always redemption at the next election.

Richard Wong is the Philip Wong Kennedy Wong Professor in Political Economy at the University of Hong Kong


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Shinzo Abe, friend of Trump and lacking Asian allies, is a true son of modern Japan

CommentInsight & Opinion
2017-02-16
Jean-Pierre Lehmann says the prime minister’s cosying up to the US is consistent with the ideological arc of modern Japan, which more than a century ago decided to cast its lot with the West, turning its back on Asia

 

“Datsu-A, Nyu-O” was the title of a Japanese publication that first appeared in 1885, 17 years after the start of the so-called Meiji Restoration (1868), a period marking Japan’s amazing drive to modernisation. Not until perhaps the reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) in China, in 1979, had the world seen anything comparable. From backward feudal isolation, in the space of a few short decades, Japan emerged as a modern, industrialised, imperialist world power. It was the only non-Western nation that succeeded in meeting the West on Western terms.

The document that set out the vision of this new Japan was titled “The Charter Oath of Five Articles”, the fourth and fifth of which read: “Evil customs of the past shall be discontinued, and new customs shall be based on the just laws of nature”; “Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world in order to promote the welfare of the empire.” The knowledge being sought was in fact from the West. The Datsu-A, Nyu-O publication – which literally means, “Exit Asia, Enter the West” – confirmed that promoting the welfare of the empire required “de-Asianisation” and “Westernisation”.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Japan learned and assimilated a lot from the West, primarily Britain, Germany, France and the US: constitutional law, jurisprudence, banking and finance, education, capitalism, modern military and naval strategy, railway building, industry, music, painting, sports (baseball from the US in 1873), lighthouses, textile manufacturing, watch making … the list runs on. Until the undertaking of these reforms, ever since the fifth century, Japan had been a student of China and, to a lesser extent, Korea. Thus, “evil customs of the past” referred to Chinese learning.

Reflecting this vision and trend, in the course of modern history, Japan has formed three major alliances with Western powers: Britain, from 1902 to 1922; Nazi Germany, from 1938 to 1945; and the US since 1953. While Japan had a number of Asian colonies (Korea, Taiwan and Manchuria) and invaded most countries in East Asia, it has never had, does not have, and, based on the current schmoozing between Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe, is unlikely to have any Asian allies. While playing golf with Trump in Florida, Abe pointed out that his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960, was the last Japanese prime minister to have played golf with an American president (Dwight Eisenhower).

In this June 1957 photo, then Japanese prime minister Nobusuke Kishi shakes hands with then senator Prescott S. Bush, watched by then US president Dwight Eisenhower. Photo: AP

Kishi in many ways embodied the Datsu-A, Nyu-O syndrome. During the war as the senior official in charge of the industrial policy of Manchukuo, he was responsible for the abduction of hundreds of thousands of Chinese slave labour, for which he earned the sobriquet Showa no yokai – “Showa-era monster”. For his war crimes, Kishi spent three years in Sugamo prison, but was released by the US as the Chinese liberation, the Korean war and the cold war changed the picture of the Asia-Pacific theatre. He was judged a good candidate to help lead Japan in a pro-US direction.

While sucking up to its American ally, Tokyo insults its former Asian colonies and enemies

Washington was not to be disappointed. In 1960, in spite of massive demonstrations by Japanese pacifists, Kishi, then prime minister, managed to ram through the Diet (Japan’s parliament) the ratification of the US-Japan security treaty that had been signed at the end of the US’ military occupation of Japan and that has served Japan so overwhelmingly well for the ensuing decades. Japan was transformed from America’s hated enemy to its pampered protégé, a status for which Kishi, who was dubbed “America’s Favourite War Criminal”, was an important architect.

Abe’s main obsession in kowtowing so obsequiously to Washington was to preserve the treaty and the alliance with the US. As far as one can judge from the fraternising last weekend, it would seem to be “mission successful”, though with Trump’s renowned volatility on the Japanese front, cautious optimism would be more in order than euphoria. Since the news of Trump’s election in November created a degree of panic in Tokyo, Abe has sought many means to brown-nose America. In December, he paid a “historic” visit to Pearl Harbour.

The Datsu-A, Nyu-O syndrome continues to be flagrantly illustrated, for example, from the fact that just a day after Abe’s trip to Pearl Harbour, his defence minister, Tomomi Inada, made an official pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine, where, inter alia, “repose” the spirits of a number of Japanese class-A war criminals, which is no doubt where Kishi’s spirit would also be had he been executed rather than liberated by the Americans. While sucking up to its American ally, Tokyo insults its former Asian colonies and enemies.

Whether the consolidation of the US-Japan security treaty (if indeed this is to happen) will strengthen peace in the Asia-Pacific remains to be seen. We live in very dangerous times: Asia generally, northeast Asia in particular, is a geopolitical cauldron. As Deng Yuwen wrote in the Post recently, “in the Trump era, we can’t rule out war between China and the US”.

Were Japan to re-enter Asia, contritely for the crimes committed in the past and constructively to bring about greater peace and prosperity in the turbulent continent, the world would be on a positive-sum game trajectory and the impact on Asia would be tremendous. As it is, by persisting in the Datsu-A, Nyu-O syndrome, tensions are exacerbated and the risks of war enhanced.

China was the US’ ally against Japan (and Nazi Germany) in the second world war, it would be a terribly tragic paradox if Japan and the US were to ally against China in a third world war.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann is emeritus professor at IMD, founder of The Evian Group, and visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong


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民粹回潮與民族復興新秩序

信報財經新聞
環地視野
2016-12-24

陳偉信

2016年接近尾聲,媒體紛紛製作它們的大事回顧︰著名期刊《外交事務》(Foreign Affairs)以「系統失序?國際體系的未來」(Out of Order? The Future of the International System)作為總結2016年及展望2017年國際政經發展的主軸,《經濟學人》更以塔羅牌的方式揭示來年數個國際政經關係重點,似乎對來年不表樂觀。畢竟如《外交政策》總裁兼總編羅斯科夫(David Rothkopf)撰文,雖然他對未來仍有一點信心,但從一般人的視角而言,2016年可說是多災多難的一年。

在中東地區,阿勒頗的戰事看似平息但背後的人道問題正一一浮現,敍利亞內亂似乎沒有平息的跡象;「伊斯蘭國」(IS)的影響力在2016年下半年看似減弱,但不少歐洲國家甚至土耳其的恐怖主義襲擊均與他們直接或間接扯上關係。在歐洲及美國,英國的脫歐公投及言論出位的特朗普(Donald Trump)當選美國總統,被視為本年兩隻影響深遠的「黑天鵝」。而在亞洲,菲律賓總統杜特爾特(Rodrigo Duterte)言行舉動,南韓總統朴槿惠因閨蜜干政及瀆職正面對彈劾審訊,南海仲裁下南中國海再無一島,九段線不再有效等,2016年國際情勢之多變,令不少國際關係學者均要重新審視既有的理論是否已經不再適用,新的時代是否降臨。

資本主義及民主大修正

布魯金斯學會高級研究員Shadi Hamid在11月分析美國大選時以「歷史終結論的終結」(The End of the End of History),暗諷政治學大師福山(Francis Fukuyama)在冷戰結束時的豪言壯語,指冷戰結束及西方勝利代表人類歷史的終結︰意識形態分歧成為過去,理想主義及身份政治不再,國際及國內政治及經濟生活將由資本主義下的經濟分析、技術官僚、民主制度所支配,認為福山的分析在這次美國大選中徹底崩潰。當然,福山作為一個新保守主義者,近年的政治立場與當天發表的歷史終結論時早有不同,但Shadi Hamid以及近日提出「冷戰終結的終結」(The End of the End of Cold War)的資深傳媒人Julia Loffe的分析不無道理,2016年確實是反映主導後冷戰系統的兩條支柱──資本主義自由市場及自由民主制度,似乎經歷着大幅度的修正。

先從民主制度的演變出發。早於二十一世紀初,當東歐、北非及部分中亞地區出現顏色革命時,不少對全球民主化抱有憧憬的人均認為第四波民主化將會出現,或至少將第三波民主化的浪潮吹到發展中國家及伊斯蘭世界。但2016年國際社會見到的不但是敍利亞問題沒有平息反而更趨混沌,原為伊斯蘭教民主典範之一的土耳其似是走向軟性威權主義,加上俄羅斯及中國在戰略層面及經濟層面的崛起,西方社會在外交層面似是難以應對。在國內方面,不少分析均直言特朗普當選及英國脫歐代表傳統的「多元政體」(Polyarchy)走向沒落,民眾傾向相信由部分政客以情緒及偏頗言論所建構的「真相」,多於由統計學及專業分析所證明的「事實」,「後真相」(Post-Truth)成為2016年的關鍵詞,民粹主義浪潮席捲西方社會衝擊民主體制,有批評更直言威權主義重臨美國及西方社會。

然而,在討論這些指摘的同時,我們不妨回歸已故政治學者亨廷頓(Samuel Huntington)第三波民主化出現的原因︰威權政體的認受性下降;經濟發展令部分發展中國家的經濟得到改善;教會的角色轉變,改為積極推動公民社會發展;部分區域的雪球效應;以及美國及西歐國家外交政策積極推動。但回望這些因素,有部分從沒有出現,例如伊斯蘭教對於行使西方民主制度一直保持距離,認為西方的自由民主體制並不切合伊斯蘭社會及文化;雪球效應並沒有在亞洲、北非及中東地區出現,而因為中國的經濟崛起及俄羅斯有效地運用其經濟及政治資源,反而令中俄的國際影響力在今年美歐內亂情況下不跌反升,因而阻止了區域雪球效應。

另一方面,西方國家在2008年及2009年面對經濟困局須集中處理國內經濟問題,無暇推動全球民主化的步伐,外交政策也因資源所限未竟全功,因而影響第三波民主以及冷戰後所建立自由世界秩序(Liberal World Order)穩定。

被西方社會視為「非自由民主」的世界悄悄崛起,同時「自由民主」世界的逐步沒落,進一步令西方社會反思冷戰後的世界系統是否出現根本問題︰經濟的全球化加速了人口、資本、服務及貨品流動的同時,其對應的本土社會政策卻沒有得到改善,令全球化經濟利益並沒有化為本土社會實質感受的利益,只剩下一堆堆的數字;當西方社會要求國民擁抱普世價值,本土民選政府卻沒有能力改變區域政策,只不過因為德國總理默克爾(Angela Merkel)單方面放棄《都柏林規定》(Dublin Regulation),其他歐盟國家便要強忍接受,是否「真民主」可謂見仁見智;而對於西歐社會的宗教及文化少數而言,他們本相信歐洲社會真的是一片信奉普世價值的樂土,卻發現原來當中偏見處處,心裏有鬱結卻口難開。

本土vs全球 精英vs平民

在這些生活點滴累積下,社會不同階層互信不再︰低下階層不相信全球化可以保障本土社群的利益,經濟差異在欠缺社會政策支援下造成新的階級分化;本土社會不相信外來人口可以融入社會,外來移民也發現普世價值只是空話,文化價值的差異在欠缺區域融合政策支援下造成新的族群分化。然而,在冷戰結束的大環境下,這些分歧不會重新成為資本主義及社會主義的二元對立,反而誕生了一個新的兩層二元系統,第一層是本土與全球的對立,令西方社會出現「再民族化」的現象,民族主義、本土主義成為西方社會重新面對的問題。

第二層是精英與平民之間的對立,平民不再相信這些可遊走於全球的精英,改為相信那些在地的情緒,精英成為了腐朽的代名詞,「大局為重」被平民視為這些精英壓迫平民的合理依據,精英代議士與民眾的信任不再,民眾逐步改為以自身的判斷作為政治行動的唯一理據。

亨廷頓在分析第三波民主時曾指出,精英在民主化及民主過渡的角色十分重要,他們既扮演着民主改革的推動者,也是支撐民主制度鞏固的中堅分子。宏觀而言,當民眾對傳統精英失去信任,部分被排除於傳統「政治精英」之列被民眾承認為新的KOL(Key Opinion Leader),這就是政治體制出現根本改變的開始。不難發現,新的KOL如瑪琳.勒龐(Marine Le Pen)、特朗普或意大利的格里洛(Enrico Grillo)等,他們都善用第一層的二元對立,被民眾視為代表他們挑戰第二層二元對立的代表,替他們向冷戰後的自由世界秩序說不。

2017︰雖有天意 事在人為

國際關係學者George Modelski曾以經濟學的長波理論,配合國際關係學說中有關戰爭及霸權更替的歷史事實及分析,提出國際政治其實有它的周期演變,87年至122年左右就會是一個循環。有趣的是,122年前法國無政府主義者Emile Henry及Martial Bourdin策劃了Café Terminus及皇家天文台的炸彈襲擊,開啟了歐洲社會以襲擊來宣示政治信念的「行動宣傳」(Propaganda of the deed)時代,似乎與今天獨狼式襲擊有異曲同工之妙。而1893年1895年間塞爾維亞裔美籍工程師特斯拉(Nikola Tesla)、意大利工程師馬可尼(Guglielmo Marconi)及俄國工程師波波夫(Alexander Stepanovich Popov)發表有關無線電通訊的成果,似乎與今天社交媒體興起也有一定程度的類似。假如以87年為界,1929年更是世界大蕭條(The Great Depression)的開始。

但不論是以87年或122年為界,及後數年的國際政治動盪均不是全球社會希望見到。是世事自有天意還是事在人為,作為占星研究者的我會相信前者,但作為國際關係研究者的我卻認為,人類的想像力及行動力既然可以製造黑天鵝,自然也可以創出白天鵝。正如歷史學家Yuvai Noah Harari指出,當年選出希特拉 (Adolf Hitler)的人今天建立了歐洲核心的民主德國,當年致力反對資本主義的,卻成為資本主義最大的受益者。

陳偉信
香港中文大學全球研究學士課程講師